Don’t be mad.
I got stuck in traffic.
Got held back at work a little late.
I had to stop and get a gallon of milk.
Hadda pull off on the side of the road and emergency poop.
Okay. I have no excuse.
I just totally can’t handle major life changes without really buckling down and focusing. And there has been a significant life change. You know how I redid my whole living room? Like, new floors and new paint on the walls and new things hanging on the walls, and a new arrangement of furniture, and all that shit?
I wound up finding someone to sit with me in my new living room.
And eat with me in my new dining room.
He cooks with me in my old kitchen (which, note to self, I need to paint in the near future).
He is good with my kids, who I promised myself I’d never introduce him to.
Because I’m avoidant.
Look, I posted this video from Kristina Kuzmic just before Christmas last year. I was prompted to go through some old posts based on a comment that I got on my Jaycee Dugard post from this past year. Part of the icky part of blogging from within an experience is having to go back and reread where you were even six months ago and honestly it can be a bit embarrassing, but it’s important. I really believe it’s important to talk publicly about the immediate experience of life – whether or not you’re working through serious adversity or mental health issues or even regular everyday struggles – because it not only gives you a little breadcrumb trail to go back through and investigate where you were from a different perspective later on, but it also legitimizes whatever struggle you’re facing in the moment for others who are coming along behind you.
Whatever problem you’re facing, someone else has already been where you are, and someone else is right where you are, and someone else is going to be hacking and slashing their way through that shit sometime in the future. And what you write about it will be a nice little signpost to let them know they’re not the first to be in that dark, disgusting place.
Anyhow, this post was where I was in terms of all this icky love stuff in mid-December of this year.
It was a response to this video, over which I’ve been conflicted for a while now.
I remember thinking, back in December, how unrelatable the idea of having feelings for someone after my divorce felt. Like, the wounds from that marriage I’d been leaving behind for three and a half years were so deep I couldn’t imagine them ever being healed enough to go back out onto the field and resume play.
Trusting someone around my kids, mostly, felt entirely out of the question. Impossible. Outrageous.
Hilariously fictional and unlikely ever to happen again.
And then, I got a voicemail.
A couple of months ago, now, I walked into work to find that unholy little red fucking light that means someone has already begun harassing you even though you’re not even at your desk yet – or voicemail – just glaring at me in the dark shadowy recesses of the newsroom.
It’s usually someone telling me something unpleasant about myself, when it’s first thing in the morning, because the front office doesn’t open until 8 a.m. and they’ve likely been calling for a couple of hours. Either (a) they didn’t get a paper or (b) they got a paper and did not like the news contained therein whatso-fucking-ever, but in any case, they feel the need to tell someone about it and that someone always seems to be me.
I punched the code into the phone to get the voicemail function called to the front, and then I entered my password when prompted (my phone code, if you ever want to hear people yell at me about newspaper-related bullshit I can’t do jack and/or shit about, is always either 6-9-6-9 or 9-6-9-6, and it changes back and forth every six months, because I’m basically a 12-year-old boy with a vagina, a series of depressing life choices, and a really shitty credit score to prove it), and there was a voice on the other end that did not annoy the living fuck out of me.
What fresh hell is this, I wondered, taking note of the distinct lack of desire to stab this faceless stranger in the larynx on general principle.
I ascertained straight away, however, that this was not a call meant for me. This was a call for the advertising manager, whose first name is the same as mine and whose calls I’m routinely getting and then sending back to her.
This person, I learned, had been expecting a call back on Friday regarding a job.
A little jobbie, Freddy.
Ten points if you got the reference.
Twenty points if you giggled a little bit.
The problem was, this person clearly had no idea how to hold a phone properly because I couldn’t hear the number he left.
It was early.
I didn’t have a lot going on yet. So I fired up my work computer and my laptop, which I use to do all the work my work computer – which might, actually, be older than me if I’m honest – can’t handle, and I took a little detour onto Facebook.
I’m a reporter. I work on a deadline. If I need to talk to you today and I’m not getting a response on email or text or any of the other methods I have of getting ahold of you, I’m going to stalk you.
I’m like Liam Neeson in “Taken” or Thad Turner from our local YMCA (who’s basically the exact same person as Liam Neeson in “Taken”), bitches.
I need very little information to stalk the living shit out of you, people. And I’m not afraid of the stalker tag. I’m into it. I dig it. I’m smart and I will get to the bottom of you.
Not in a gross way.
But the fact that I felt the need to clarify that I didn’t mean it in a vaguely sexual way is only more proof of the fact that I’m basically a 12-year-old boy.
Anyhow, with just a first and a last name I found this fellow on Facebook in approximately 0.618 seconds.
And he was cute.
And I’m okay with online interactions, so I figured fuck it. I’d been swiping through dud after dud on Bumble and then on Hinge. Curiosity was there. Interest was there. But not enough to actually follow through with contriving something.
This felt accidental.
And I liked it.
So I sent him a message to let him know that his voicemail had reached the wrong Stacey. And then he said thank you. And then I said some more things, and then he said some more things, and then we…just…didn’t stop saying things.
And now he’s met all my friends and family and he sleeps at my house a bunch of nights a week and there’s usually a pair of his socks in my washer.
So. That’s the story of how that all went down.
And here’s the thing: I spent a lot of time thinking about what it would feel like to have feelings for someone after another someone almost basically murdered my soul and then pissed on its corpse.
I did a lot of prophylactic planning. How I would handle it. Timelines. In my head, there were all these blueprints for intangible events and milestones.
He won’t meet my kids until…
He won’t spend the night at my house until…
I won’t say X or Y or Z until…
I won’t do things like wash his socks until…
I never really nailed down anything concrete after until. But it felt good to feel like I had a plan. And probably the plan would’ve worked, if I’d gone ahead and contrived myself a little situation from Bumble or Hinge, the way I’d been planning to do if there was ever someone on one of those apps who wasn’t a complete and utter tool bag.
But this was not contrived. And I have found myself over the course of the last two months, against my better judgement, following my gut instead of my head. It helps that things feel easy and natural with this person.
And, let me just interject here that I’m still searching for the correct pronoun for this dude. I’m 35 and surly as fuck, y’all.
I am not dating a boy, and so I do not have a boyfriend.
I’m leaning toward the phrase I hear often in obituaries of fancy ladies who’ve had a handful of trysts after moving to a village with golf cart parking in Florida.
“Ethel leaves behind four sons, two daughters, a whole goddamn gagglefuck of ungrateful, mostly millennial, grandchildren, and her special friend Bud, of Englewood.”
I’ve legit processed more than one obituary for the real life Blanche Deveraux that listed plural “special friends.”
Like, she was that unapologetic that she was like, “fuck that. Put the roster of men I’m bangin’ in there. I want those bitches who used to make fun of me for being in debate club to answer my final question: how ya like me now, bitches? Janet? Evelyn? How many special friends you got up in Connecticut?”
That’s where I’m at.
And it feels good.
And here’s what I’ve learned about learning to trust someone after someone else really fucking shit all over the trust you gave them:
- You don’t need to relearn how to trust other people. You need to relearn to trust yourself.
- There’s no easy way to relearn to trust yourself, but you can get really good at trusting other people by paying attention to how many times their actions match their words.
- What that jagoff who hurt you did wrong is not the new guy’s problem. All he wants to do is buy you tacos and take you to see the new Michael Myers movie. And help you read a bedtime story to your kids. And go with you trick or treating. And make you his mom’s French toast for dinner because he wants you to like him and then keep apologizing that it’s not as good as it usually is because – it’s totally fine, honestly, not a big deal at all – but you didn’t have cinnamon and it really needs the cinnamon. He didn’t use you as a mask while he led a secret life of abject addiction to very illegal and morally reprehensible porn genres.
- Having someone be genuinely kind to you is going to feel fucking awful at first, because you’re going to be highly conditioned to find grooming in even the most innocuous of kind gestures. You cannot ask yourself if he wants to know what you’d like for dinner when you get home from work because he’s going to use the box of tacos to guilt you into dressing up like an Amish teenager one awful Tuesday night when the kids aren’t home.
- Walking into any relationship at least 80 percent intrinsically satisfied with yourself as a person makes it easier to face the idea of walking right the fuck back out of that relationship if it doesn’t live up to the standards you’ve put in place before walking in.
- It’s going to be hard. It’s also going to be worth it.
- You’re right. He could absolutely hurt you and your kids as badly if not worse than the last piece of trash you just finally threw out after holding onto it for way to long. But he could also be exactly who he claims to be, and he could be the best thing that ever happened to your kids and he could be an excellent model for them as to how they should expect to be treated. Probably, he’s going to fall somewhere in between. And that’s outstanding.
- Insomnia basically goes away when the right person is sleeping beside you. I say the right person because my insomnia was at its worst during my marriage – the wrong person will actually keep you up all night, and not in the fun way.
- Modeling avoidance for your kids is just as bad as modeling promiscuity. Aim for middle ground.
- Even if this winds up bad, and he turns out to be nothing that he claimed to be, you get to model how to recover from sad heart syndrome like a fuckin’ boss for your daughters. And that’s a great lesson to model, if you must.
And that’s it.
That’s why I haven’t been writing.
I’ve been in the middle of a transition that I’ve needed significant executive function to properly manage.
The main transition, from being reconciled with the idea of eternal spinsterhood to answering questions like “have you eaten,” and “what can I do to help you,” from someone who has nothing tangible to gain from asking them but continues to ask them anyhow, has been managed.
And I’m going to try and get back on track with blogging.
But, for tonight, that’s all I got.